What Is Over / Under In Betting? Over Under Meaning Explained


Introduction To Totals

Over/under betting, also called totals or o/u betting, is a straightforward way to bet on the combined final score of a sporting event, whether it’s football, basketball, hockey, or any other sport where points or goals are scored. The goal of over under, or o/u betting, is to predict whether the final score will be over or under a specific number set by the sportsbook. In this article, we answer what is over/under betting, what the over/under means, and the following:

What Does Over / Under Mean in Betting?

In over under betting, the sportsbook sets a number known as the “totals line” or “over/under line.” Often this is represented by an O/U under the totals column at every sportsbook. This number represents the projected total points, goals, or runs that both teams are expected to score combined. When betting on totals, you have to decide whether the actual final score will be higher (go over) or lower (go under) than the amount listed.

For instance, if you’re gambling on a basketball game, the sportsbook may set the totals line at 210 points. If you believe the teams will score a combined total of more than 210 points, you would bet the “over.” Conversely, if you think they’ll score fewer than 210 points combined, you’d choose the “under.”

A screenshot of the over under odds from Sports Interaction that shows which odds are the over and which are the under.

How Does Over / Under Betting Work?

When you place an over/under bet, you’ll also encounter odds associated with the over and the under option. Similarly to a spread bet, the odds will be written to the right of the over/under line. As with any market, these odds represent the potential payout for a successful bet. 

Sportsbooks set the totals line by assessing both team’s past performance and likelihood to score. Typically they’ll select a number that does not have an obvious winning side – in other words, the score could easily go over or under the line set. For this same reason, the odds for the over and the under are usually quite similar if not the same, because the likelihood of either result is fairly equal. This also ensures bettors place wagers on both outcomes, which reduces the risk for the sportsbook and ensures they take home a vigorish.

For example, you might see odds like:

  • Over 210.5 points: -110
  • Under 210.5 points: -110

In this example, there is no favourite or more likely outcome. The sportsbook has assessed the past performance of the two teams to decide that 210 points is a combined average for these two teams. For instance, maybe Team A has on average scored 89 points all season, while Team B has scored 113. Together, their average is 210 points which they could easily go over or under. So, if you stake $110 on the over and the score comes out at 211 points, you’ll receive a payout of $100. If, however, the final score was 210, you would lose your bet and forgo your stake. 

How Does A Push Affect Totals Betting? Why Totals Bets Include Half Points

Similarly to spread betting, totals include half points to avoid a push. For bettors looking to wager on an over/under bet, most of the time the number of points will not be a whole number. In our example above, a problem would arise if the over/under were listed at 210 and the final score were exactly 210 points – which bettors would win? This is called a push, and sportsbooks like to avoid this situation by adding a half point to the totals line listed. For instance, you would be more likely to see 210.5 listed than just 210. If the total was listed at 210.5, a final score of 210 would be successful for the under bettors. Comparatively, a score of 211 would be successful for the over bettors.

Sometimes, sportsbooks will allow a push to happen. If you do come across a whole number listed as the totals line, a push becomes a third possible outcome. If the final score were to be exactly the totals line, the sportsbook will return the bettor’s stake on both sides. Sportsbooks will often use half point totals lines because in the case of a push, they have to return all stakes wagered and they make no profit. In other instances, some sportsbooks consider a push to be a loss. For this reason, always read the terms and conditions of each sportsbook before you bet.